Showing kids with special needs how to pray. That’s a lesson guest blogger, Lisa Jamieson, learned from her daughter Carly, who lives with Angelman Syndrome. That lesson led to Lisa’s new children’s book, Jesus, Let’s Talk, which contains pictures showing kids with special needs how to pray. She’s at Different Dream today to talk about her new book.
Would you tell Different Dream readers a little bit about yourself and your family?
My husband, Larry, and I have three adult daughters and live in Minnesota with our youngest, Carly, who is 19 years old and has Angelman Syndrome. She loves water, music and riding anything that goes fast! Much of my time is spent caring for our household but I also write, speak and serve in ministry as an advocate for caregivers of all generations. Larry works for a men’s discipleship ministry and does business consulting. We are excited to celebrate 30 years of marriage this summer.
As the parent of a child with special needs, what’s your number one piece of advice for other parents raising kids with disabilities and special needs?
The advice I have to give myself every day is—slow down! There are so many interesting things competing for our attention along with cultural and internal pressures to do more than our mental bandwidth can bear. In a special needs family, we add the constant possibility that our routines will be interrupted by something unexpected and urgent. The reality is that our relationships matter so much more than our activities, projects and causes. I feel most satisfied, effective and rested when I slow down to appreciate things, spend intentional time with our children, commit to weekly date nights with Larry, and maintain adequate self-care.
Why did you write Jesus, Let’s Talk?
God taught me a lesson late one night when Carly was having trouble sleeping and seemed to be in pain. In tearful frustration, I called out, “Jesus, help!” while simultaneously signing “help” for Carly to see. Suddenly it occurred to me that we had not explained to her about asking God for help. Although we had been teaching Carly “thank you” and “I love you” prayers around meal time and bedtime, I realized most other prayers happened inside my head, between me and God. I began teaching Carly a broader range of prayers and a representative gesture or American Sign Language with each scenario. Since I had made Carly photo scrapbooks to model new skills over the years, I began envisioning one pairing basic prayers with key signs. It seemed like a book that could help others but I found nothing like it on the market. I asked my friend, Ann, to pray about the project with me. Ann travels internationally for missions work, is a professional photographer, and shares my passion to help people of all ages connect with Jesus. We sensed God putting us in partnership with a special vision and quickly set a plan. We had so much fun creating Jesus, Let’s Talk and working with all the beautiful young people who modeled with us!
Who is the audience for the book?
While I hope lots of children all around the world will enjoy Jesus, Let’s Talk, I wrote it with young people like my daughter and their caregivers at the top of my mind.
What message do you want readers to hear from the book?
Most of all, I want readers to be encouraged in the truth that God loves them, considers them exceedingly precious and wants to have relationship with them. I want children to grow up knowing God is easy to talk with and that He has the power to meet their needs. Whether they are happy or hurting, feeling sad or alone, needing help or hope, it’s been my prayer that readers will start talking to God about everything that matters to them.
Where will readers find the book?
What other writing projects do you have in the works?
I’m very excited to be working on a new book with our adult daughters, Alex and Erin. I’ve also been invited to blog about parenting typical children who have a sibling(s) with special needs. These special siblings have unique needs and perspectives so I’m hoping to help give voice to these unsung heroes.
Lisa Jamieson is an author and speaker who advocates for families affected by disability and caregivers. She leads the Minnesota Disability Ministry Connection and serves as executive director of Walk Right In Ministries. Lisa co-wrote Finding Glory in the Thorns and its companion Bible study guide with her husband, Larry. Her children’s book, Jesus, Let’s Talk, features delightful photography of young people from around the world, many with developmental differences. Lisa and Larry have three grown daughters and are excited to celebrate 30 years of marriage this summer. Their daughter, Carly, has Angelman Syndrome and lives happily at home with them in Minnesota.
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